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DicoPolHiS

Political Dictionary of the History of Health

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    • Menopause

      The history of “menopause” as a medical category revolves around gender relationships.

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    • Epilepsy

      How does the history of epilepsy explain the negative image that this disease still sometimes suffers from?

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    • Female delirium

      The emerging psychiatry has locked women in contemporary prejudices.

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    • Hollywood smile

      The Hollywood smile, characterized by white, straight teeth, is a complex phenomenon involving social, cultural, scientific and technological changes in the early 20th century. It emerged with the development of film, advertising, orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry.

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    • Anorexia

      The medical supervision of anorexia responded to political and scientific stakes in order to normalize puberty. 

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    • Nostalgia

      In the 19th century, nostalgia became a mortal illness that endangered French military and colonial might.

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    • Naturism

      Naturism strives for a natural public health.

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    • The Corset

      Devised to control the female body, the corset has had, between the 18th and the 20th century, many detractors.

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    • Yoga

      Can an Eastern spiritual practice become a Western health practice without betraying itself?

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    • Breast feeding

      The naturalness of breast feeding has been subordinated to a political idea of the Nation asserted in an explicit hierarchisation of class and race.

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    • Zombies

      In Haïti, some individuals come back to life whereas they had been declared dead then inhumed.

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    • Puerperal insanity

      The topicality of cases of infanticide invites us to question the historical origin of the madness of motherhood.

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    • Sugar

      The relationship to sugar in our society is sustainably anchored on a difference between genders.

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    • The Stomach

      Knowledge of the interconnection of the gut and psyche has a longer history than scientists often admit.

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    • D’Arsonval chronometer

      Time-measurement devices in clinical and experimental settings have historically tended to pathologize mental “slowness” and normalize “speed” as a signifier of mental health.

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    • Christine Jorgensen

      “Ex-GI becomes blonde beauty” : in 1953, Christine Jorgensen became the first transsexual in the media.

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    • Vegetarianism

      Around 1900, a vegetarian movement was organized in France to resolve the social question.

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    • Near Death Experience

      In the mid-1970s, the near-death experience emerged as a new spiritual manifestation within medicine, at the heart of a policy of survivors and their trauma.

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    • Barcelona 1821

      The 1821 yellow fever outbreak in Barcelona made clear the political dimensions of public health legislation.

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    • Lesbianism

      Lesbianism is considered in the 17th and nineteenth19th centuries, both as a physical and behavioural pathology. 

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    • Telemedicine and Covid-19

      Does the Covid-19 health crisis mark the advent of telemedicine in our societies?

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    • Asperger

      The naming of this syndrome in 1981 is loaded with potent political and historical implications.

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    • "Gueules cassées"

      The Gueules cassées, in other words facially disfigured soldiers, are recognized as war wounded people with difficulty, but they represent a turning point in surgery.

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    • The suitcases of Willard State Hospital (New-York)

      Suitcases as symbols of the struggle for dignity and civil rights of people with mental illnesses

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    • Psychedelic

      The term psychedelic was coined to refer to psychotic substances explored for use in psychiatry, but which remain under strict control

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    • Rare diseases

      The category of “rare diseases” was born of the interactions between authorities, patients and the pharmaceutical industry following a consolidation of US pharmaceutical legislation.

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    • Lypemania

      The re-naming of an illness is as much a political act as a scientific one, as shown by the case of lypemania

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    • Patient associations

      As early as the years 1930-50, tuberculosis patient associations became significant political actors.

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    • Tobacco control

      Tobacco control, for all that it serves unquestionable health purposes, remains steeped in political issues

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    • Truth serum



      The truth serum is not just a fantasy, the stuff of science-fiction, it is also a political and medical instrument.Screenshot from Franju, La Tête contre les murs. The truth serum is not just a fantasy...

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    • Caster Semenya

      The case of Caster Semenya politicises through sport the intersex condition.

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    • Officiers de santé

      Should the new career of assistant medical be understood as a return to the Officiers de Santé status ?

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    • Montreal 1989

      In July 1989, a handful of activists turned HIV-AIDS into a political issue.

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    • Social paediatrics



      Social paediatrics aim to think of child health holistically, within its environment and to act socially. Social paediatrics aim to think of child health holistically, within its environment and to act...

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    • The Blind

      The Great War marked a second turning point in the history of social policies towards the blind.

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    • Obesity

      Over the course of the 20th century, obesity came to be seen as a public health issue.

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    • Criminal abortion

      In 1852 the criminalisation of abortion is reaffirmed after the Academy of Medicine arrived at a resolution regarding therapeutic abortion.

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    • Radicalisation and psychiatry

      The lumping together of mental illness and radicalisation leads to negating the latter’s implication in individual and collective history

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    • Lyme

      Patients and physicians hold conflicting political and scientific views on the existence of an emerging disease caused by tick bites.

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    • Aerobics

      The Gym Tonic aerobics programme heralded the advent of a new politics of the female body

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    • Neurodiversity

      The notion of neurodiversity appeared at the end of the 90s in an effort to de-pathologize mental illness and combat discrimination.

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    • Tattoos

      A body enhancing aesthetic practice, tattooing pertained, in the 19th century, to the world of crime and social deviance.

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    • Mecca

      In 1865 cholera spread from Mecca to the rest of the world, redirecting just-born international health policy’s priorities on Muslim pilgrimage flows.

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    • Emergency medicine

      The 20th century oversaw the development of emergency medicine as a new public health norm.

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    • Caesarian section

      In 19th century Belgium, post-mortem caesarean section turned into a politicized debate.

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    • Excess mortality in psychiatric hospitals

      Did excess mortality among the Great War insane result from a political choice?

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    • Drapetomania

      Drapotemania exemplifies the existence of psychiatric diagnoses rooted in the political stigmatisation of a social group.

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    • Clitoris

      Almost entirely overlooked throughout the 20th century, neglected by contemporary medical manuals, the clitoris has gradually returned centre stage thanks to Western feminism.

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    • LSD

      LSD was, for a while in the 50s, a promising medication before becoming controversial.

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    • Intelligence test

      From the outset, the measurement of intelligence was as much a scientific as an eminently political endeavour.

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    • Hymen

      By asserting the hymen, a ubiquitous trait of female anatomy, 19th physicians reinforced the taboos affecting women's sexuality.

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    • Telemedicine

      The Covid-19 pandemic finds us revisiting an ancient practice: telemedicine.

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DicoPolHiS

DicoPolHiS (standing for dictionnaire politique de l’histoire de la santé, political dictionary of the history of health) is a French initiative which aims to gather the communities of historians, history students and actors of the healthcare system.

 

This dictionary is both historical and political. Its objective is to examine the social stakes of diagnosis and therapeutic practices since the 18th century to the present. Its historical approach permits to understand the way the social and political notions such as the construction of illnesses, care practices or the human body were defined through history. This dictionary studies concepts such as the relation between the caregiver and the patient, the intervention of citizens in the field of health, the social and political stakes of diagnosis and therapeutic practices.

 

These standardized notes follow academic rules and are written by academics and advanced history students and a new note is published every week.DicoPolHiS ambitions to become an open reference tool for academic production and to widen and internationalize. This project is led by Hervé Guillemain, historian and professor at Mans University, supported by the research laboratory for history, TEMOS CNRS 9016.

 

If you are interested in DicoPolHiS, you can follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and visit our website: http://dicopolhis.univ-lemans.fr

 

The best way to help us grow is by sharing the initiative to your historian or health networks. If you are motivated to take part in the project by writing notes for the dictionary, please contact us at dicopolhis@univ-lemans.fr. It might also be for you an opportunity to promote your work on the French and international scenes.